SayariLabs, in collaboration with the Kenya Space Agency and Endurosat, has launched Kenya’s first 3U Earth observation satellite, the Taifa-1, today aboard SpaceX’s Falcon-9 full thrust rocket from Space Launch Complex 4E (SLC-4E), Vandenberg Space Force Base in the USA.
A team of Kenyan engineers from SayariLabs, designed and constructed Taifa-1 in collaboration with Bulgarian aerospace manufacturer Endurosat AD, which helped offset the design cost. The satellite was intentionally designed to weigh a ton to reduce development time and launch costs and to facilitate entry for developing countries without the capacity for large satellites.
Visit here to rewatch the lift-off of Taifa-1 from Vandenberg Space Force Base in the USA.
Taifa-1’s launch is the first step towards developing a proposed constellation of small EO satellites for Kenya. It is expected to significantly contribute to spurring the growth of Kenya’s space economy by improving satellite development, data analytics, processing, and application capabilities. In addition, the mission is expected to provide accurate and timely Earth observation data to stakeholders across various sectors for strategic developmental decisions. For example, the data will support agriculture, natural resource management, and environmental observations. Additionally, the satellite launch demonstrates Kenya’s progress in developing satellite manufacturing capabilities for socio-economic benefits.
According to the satellite’s mission statement released by the Kenya Space Agency, Taifa-1 has an optical camera that can capture images in five multispectral bands and a panchromatic band, with a ground sampling distance of 32 and 16 metres, respectively. These images are combined to create higher-quality pan-sharpened images. Furthermore, the satellite bus comprises other subsystems, such as electrical power, communication, structures and mechanisms, onboard computing, attitude determination and control, and thermal control, necessary for the payload to function optimally and achieve mission objectives. In addition, both the payload and the satellite bus have onboard mass storage systems that temporarily store images before they are downloaded from the ground station.
In addition, the ground segment comprises a ground station operating on UHF/S/X Band frequencies and all the necessary equipment for tracking and wireless communication with the Taifa-1 space segment. It is the main access point for mission operators to communicate with the satellite.